March 10/14


Bible Quotation for today/The Leper's Curing Miracle

Mark 01/35-45/: "In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter."

The Faith of the Leper
By: Elias Bejjani*
Christ, the Son of God,  is always ready and willing to help the sinners who seek forgiveness and repentance.  When we are remorseful and ask Him for exoneration, He never gives up on us no matter what we did or said.  As a loving Father, He always comes to our rescue when we get ourselves into trouble. He grants us all kinds of graces to safeguard us from falling into the treacherous traps of Satan's sinful temptations.
 Jesus the only Son Of God willingly endured all kinds of humiliation, pain, torture and accepted death on the cross for our sake and salvation. Through His crucifixion He absolved us from the original sin that our first parents Adam and Eve committed.  He showed us the righteous ways through which we can return with Him on the Day Of Judgment to His Father's Heavenly kingdom.
Jesus made his call to the needy, persecuted, sick and sinners loud and clear: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) The outcast leper believed in Jesus' call and came to Him asking for cleansing. Jesus took his hand, touched him with love, and responded to his request. 
The leper knew deep in his heart that Jesus could cure him from his devastating and shameful leprosy if He is willing to do so. Against all odds he took the hard and right decision to seek out at once Jesus' mercy.  
With solid faith, courage and perseverance the leper approached Jesus and begging him, kneeling down to him, and says to him, "If you want to, you can make me clean."  When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him and he was made clean. Jesus extended His hand and touched him with great passion and strictly warned him, "See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."  But the leper went out, began to proclaim it much, and spread about the matter so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere. (Mark 1/40-45)
We sinners, all of us, ought to learn from the leper's great example of faith. Like him we need to endeavour for sincere repentance with heartfelt prayer, begging Almighty God for absolution from all our sins. Honest pursuit of salvation and repentance requires a great deal of humility, honesty, love, transparency and perseverance. Like the leper we must trust in God's mercy and unwaveringly go after it.
The faithful leper sensed deep inside his conscience that Jesus could cleanse him, but was not sure if he is worth Jesus' attention and mercy.  
His faith and great trust in God made him break all the laws that prohibited a leper from getting close to or touching anybody. He tossed himself at Jesus' feet scared and trembling. With great love, confidence, meekness and passion he spoke to Jesus saying  “If you will, you can make me clean.” He did not mean if you are in a good mood at present. He meant, rather, if it is not out of line with the purpose of God, and if it is not violating some cosmic program God is working out then you can make me clean.  
Lepers in the old days were outcasts forced to live in isolation far away from the public. They were not allowed to continue living in their own communities or families. They were looked upon as dead people and forbidden from even entering the synagogues to worship. They were harshly persecuted, deprived of all their basic rights and dealt with as sinners. But in God's eyes these sick lepers were His children whom He dearly loves and cares for.  “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you". Matthew(5/11-12) 
The leper trusted in God's parenthood and did not have any doubts about Jesus' divinity and power to cleanse and cure him. Without any hesitation, and with a pure heart, he put himself with full submission into Jesus' hands and will knowing that God our Father cannot but have mercy on His children. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". (Matthew5/8)  
We need to take the leper as a role model in our lives. His strong and steadfast faith cured him and put him back into society. We are to know God can do whatever He wants and to trust Him. If He is willing, He will. We just have to trust in the goodness and mercy of God and keep on praying and asking, and He surely will respond in His own way even though many times our limited minds can not grasp His help. 
Praying on regular basis as Jesus instructed us to is an extremely comforting ritual: "Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions" (Mark 11/24-26) 
The leper's faith teaches us that God always listens and always responds to our requests when we approach Him with pure hearts, trust, confidence and humbleness. Almighty God is a loving father who loves us all , we His children and all what we have to do to get His attention is to make our requests through praying. "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened". (Matthew 7/8 -9)


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For March 10/14

No difference between ISIS and Al-Nusra Front/BY: Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Alawsat/March 10/14

To Fatima, who lost her brother in Syria/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/March 10/14

The malignant cancer that is the ISIS/Bakir Oweida/Asharq Alawsat/March 10/14

Saudi Arabia seeking to contain regional chaos/Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/March 10/14


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For March 10/14
Lebanese Related News

Nuns held in Syria since December go free

Bulgarian police recover DNA evidence of one of Burgas bombers

Iraq minister apologizes for Lebanon plane row
Geagea calls for the arrest of Saqr’s kidnappers

Al-Rahi Urges Officials to Rise above Personal Interests to Approve Policy Statement

Bassil: We Fear Lebanon Will Become Passageway for Jihadists

Report: Hizbullah Rejects Refering Policy Statement to Cabinet Fearing Vote in March 14's Favor

Rockets Fired from Syria Land in Akkar

Report: Suleiman's Term to Be Extended to Preserve Stability in Lebanon

Virgin Mary Statue Insulter Arrested

Iraqi Transport Minister Assures 'Bubble' Won't Change Bilateral Ties, Cooperation to Increase

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Arab League: No to Israel as Jewish state

Worldwide probe to identify two mystery passengers aboard missing Malaysian airliner

Final inventory of Iran arms ship: 40 rockets, 180 mortars, 400,000 bullets

Israel unloads 150 containers from Iranian weapons ship, deploys Iron Dome in Eilat
Netanyahu calls on EU's Ashton to question Iran on arms ship during Tehran visit
Maliki Accuses Saudi Arabia of Supporting 'Global Terrorism': Riyadh, Doha Declared War on Iraq

UAE backs Saudis on Brotherhood blacklist
EU's Ashton: ‘No guarantee’ of final Iran nuclear accord
Aid groups demand humanitarian access in Syria

Has Obama Changed His Mind About Syria?
Suicide Bomber Kills 21 at Crowded Iraq Checkpoint

Saudis, Emiratis Quit Qatari Media Outlets


Lebanese killed by armed thieves in Libya, says ambassador
BEIRUT - Now Lebanon/A Lebanese man has been killed by armed thieves in Libya, according to a statement by the ambassador.


Nuns held in Syria since December go free

By REUTERS/03/09/2014 /Captors release about a dozen nuns held for more than 3 months; sources say nuns are on their way to Damascus via Lebanon.
BEIRUT - About a dozen nuns held in Syria for more than three months have been released and are on their way to Damascus via Lebanon, a Lebanese security source and church officials said on Sunday.The security source said the nuns had been transferred to the Lebanese town of Arsal earlier in the week and were on their way to Syria on Sunday. The nuns went missing in December after Islamist fighters took the ancient quarter of the Christian town of Maaloula north of Damascus. After being held in the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Thecla in Maaloula, they were reportedly moved to the town of Yabroud, about 20 km (13 miles) to the north, which is now the focus of a government military operation. Speaking to reporters at the border, Syrian Greek Orthodox Bishop Louka al-Khoury welcomed the news. "What the Syrian army achieved in Yabroud facilitated this process," he said. It was unclear exactly who had held the nuns and why they had been released now. In December, the nuns showed up in a video obtained by Al Jazeera television, saying they were in good health, but it was not clear who filmed the video, where it was made or under what conditions. Syria's Christian community has broadly tried to stay on the sidelines of the country's three-year-old-conflict, which has killed over 140,000 and become increasingly sectarian. But the rise of hardline Islamists among the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim opposition has alarmed many


Bulgarian police recover DNA evidence of one of Burgas bombers

By JPOST.COM STAFF/03/09/2014
Hezbollah operative who remotely detonated bomb in suicide bomber's backpack left hats, towel in hotel room which yield DNA evidence. Meliad Farah and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, who are suspected of involvement in the Burgas bus bombing. Hezbollah operative who remotely detonated bomb in suicide bomber's backpack left hats, towel in hotel room which yield DNA evidence. Bulgarian police have recovered DNA evidence of one of the Hezbollah operatives who perpetrated the July 2012 bombing of a bus in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, in which five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed, Sofia News Agency reported Sunday.
DNA belonging to Lebanese-born Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan, the man in charge of the logistics of the attack, was found at a hotel in Nesebar, a nearby resort town.Hassan, who Bulgarian authorities say remotely detonated the bomb in the suicide bomber's backpack, arrived in the country some three weeks before the attack on June 28, 2012. He stayed at the hotel in Nesebar for a week. He left two baseball caps and a towel in the hotel room, from which investigators extracted the DNA, according to the report. Bulgarian authorities believe he was forced to leave the hotel hastily, leaving the incriminating items behind.
Last month, Bulgarian authorities announced that a third suspect had been identified in the crime. Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov told reporters,"Two individuals were previously established. They are now three."
"The identification of the new suspect will extend the investigation and there will be new requests for legal help from abroad... It means we will need just a little more time," Tsatsarov said. He did not give any more details.
The suspects in the bombing remain at large. The tourists had arrived on a charter flight from Israel and were in the bus in the airport parking lot when the blast tore through the vehicle, also killing the Bulgarian driver and wounding more than 30 people. Bulgarian authorities previously named two men of Lebanese origin as suspects and said it believed the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah was behind the bombing.
The European Union last July put the armed wing of Hezbollah on its terrorism blacklist over the incident. Prosecutors in November said they aimed to wrap up the investigation by the end of April.
Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.

Report: Suleiman's Term to Be Extended to Preserve Stability in Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 March 2014/The international community views President Michel Suleiman as a factor that contributes to Lebanon's stability and security given the critical regional situation, reported the Kuwaiti al-Anba daily on Sunday. To that end, the international community will likely advocate that his term be extended in order to preserve this stability and avoid any political vacuum in Lebanon, said a source informed with the discussions that took place at the International Support Group meeting on Lebanon that was held on Wednesday. “World powers are keen to avoid vacuum, which will either lead to the election of a new president or force Suleiman to stay in his post” until the situation in the region becomes clear, it explained. The Lebanese powers will most likely fail to agree on a presidential candidate given the great differences between them and their commitments to foreign powers that determine their political choices in such affairs, added the source. It noted how regional and international agendas determined the election of past presidents. Late President Elias Hrawi was elected in order to implement the Taef Accord that ended the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war. President Emile Lahoud was elected in order to assert Syria's control over Lebanon, continued the source, while Suleiman was elected in order to implement the 2008 Doha Accord. Suleiman's six-year term ends on May 25.

Geagea calls for the arrest of Saqr’s kidnappers
BEIRUT -Now Lebanon/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea congratulated Zahle businessman Ibrahim Sakr on the release of his nine-year-old son Michel, who was kidnapped Friday in front of his house, and called for the arrest of the kidnappers. “The political authorities must take a firm stance to end the tragedy of kidnappings that we have been living for three years… not by only pressing for the release of the kidnapped, but by pursuing the kidnappers until the end,” Geagea told Free Lebanon radio. Geagea also noted that kidnappings in Lebanon were restricted, and could be solved “if there is a clear political will to do so.”
“The kidnappers are identified, but the problem is that security forces are used to pleading with the kidnappers to release their victims, whereas they should pursue the kidnapping networks, which are well-known.”
On Friday evening security forces said they had discovered the identity of the kidnappers, and were coordinating with the army to free Saqr, according to NOW's correspondent in the Beqaa.
On Saturday, the Internal Security Forces were able to free the kidnapped child without paying a ransom. The ISF retrieved Saqr from a location near the central Beqaa village of Talia, then took him to Zahle to take his statement before his family arrived to receive him, the National News Agency reported.


Bassil: We Fear Lebanon Will Become Passageway for Jihadists
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 March 2014/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed on Sunday that terrorism cannot be justified by religion or any other excuse, warning against the spread of the phenomenon in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world. He said: “We fear that Lebanon will become a passageway for jihadists.”He made his remarks during the opening of the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, Egypt. “The solution lies in properly equipping the army,” he added, while hoping that the upcoming Rome conference aimed at bolstering the army will fulfill this demand. “Can you believe that in the country of coexistence some individuals have taken the path of suicide bombing as a result of the political and religious environment that harbors such sentiments?” he asked the gatherers. “Terrorism does not have a creed and combating it requires a firm political and security position,” stated Bassil. “Combating terrorism in Lebanon requires the proper equipping of the army,” he declared. Addressing the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, he warned that this issue has started to take on an “existential turn in the country.” On a daily basis, Lebanon takes in 45 percent of refugees fleeing Syria, he noted. This has taken place while Lebanon's state institutions have not received any foreign aid, lamented the foreign minister.
“We can no longer adopt the 'open door' policy and we demand that the refugees be fairly distributed in safe areas in Syria and in near and far Arab countries,” stressed Bassil.
In addition, he highlighted the importance of Lebanon's right to liberate occupied land and resist any Israeli assault. Lebanon has been hit by several car bombings in recent months carried out by al-Qaida-affiliated groups that are oppose Hizbullah's fighting in Syria. The bombings have mainly taken place in Hizbullah strongholds. The party has been taking part in the fighting alongside the Syrian regime forces against a rebel uprising.


Al-Rahi Urges Officials to Rise above Personal Interests to Approve Policy Statement
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 March 2014/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi noted on Sunday that the Bkirki charter could help officials end disputes that are hindering an agreement on the government's policy statement. He said during his Sunday sermon: “We urge officials to rise above their personal interests and seek Lebanon's interests through approving a policy statement.” The disputes thwarting the drafting of the statement are not more important than higher national interests and the constitution, he remarked. The new government is tasked with staging the presidential elections on time “as the election of the president is a main factor in the rise of the state,” stressed al-Rahi. “It is shameful and an insult to national dignity to hear some sides speak of vacuum and the possibility of postponing the elections,” he continued. Unveiled in February, the Bkirki charter highlighted the importance of staging the presidential elections, while warning of the dangers threatening Lebanon due to regional developments.


Report: Hizbullah Rejects Refering Policy Statement to Cabinet Fearing Vote in March 14's Favor
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 March 2014/The ongoing dispute over the government's policy statement may force Prime Minister Tammam Salam to refer each of the March 8 and 14 camp's respective drafts to a vote at cabinet, reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Anba on Sunday. Hizbullah will however reject such a move because of the likelihood that the March 14 proposal will be adopted seeing as the alliance enjoys a greater number of ministers.
Moreover, the ministers loyal to President Michel Suleiman and Salam will likely vote in favor of the March 14 draft policy statement. Given Hizbullah's fears, Salam proposed that the deadline for drafting the statement be extended by scheduling a session on Tuesday in a hope that the rival parties will agree on a single draft. The panel has so far failed to agree on a policy statement given Hizbullah's insistence to include the “army-people-resistance” equation in the draft and Suleiman's insistence that it include a reference to the Baabda Declaration. The March 14 camp has rejected Hizbullah's suggestion, advocating instead the president's position.


Iraq minister apologizes for Lebanon plane row
BAGHDAD -AFP/ Iraq's transport minister apologized on Sunday for a row in which a Lebanese airliner en route to Baghdad was ordered to turn back mid-flight to pick up his son.
Hadi al-Ameri pledged to turn his son in if an Iraqi investigation found he had carried out any wrongdoing and insisted he would personally bear the costs of the Middle East Airlines flight having to turn around while travelling from Beirut to Baghdad. "I ask you to forgive me for what happened," Ameri said during a press conference at Baghdad airport in which he refused to take questions. "The time when the sons of officials made mistakes and escaped punishment is over, and if the investigation proves my son made mistakes, I will present him to the courts myself," he added, referring to an Iraqi probe ordered by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. "As a minister, I will bear the costs of transport and the losses at my own expense, because the issue relates to my son." Lebanon's Middle East Airlines said on Thursday Iraqi authorities forced its airliner to turn around some 20 minutes after leaving Beirut because Ameri's son, Mahdi, had missed the flight. MEA said the flight had taken off after repeatedly paging two passengers, who failed to turn up. The missing passenger was identified as Mahdi al-Ameri, and the plane turned back to Beirut. Following the incident, Maliki ordered "all those responsible for preventing the plane coming from Beirut from landing in Baghdad" be "dismissed and held responsible," his spokesperson Ali Mussawi said. Later the same day, the deputy head of Baghdad airport was arrested by troops reporting directly to the prime minister, but it was unclear what role the official is thought to have played in the incident.


Rockets Fired from Syria Land in Akkar
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 March 2014/A number of rockets fired from the Syrian side of the border landed in the northern region of Akkar, reported the National News Agency on Sunday. The rockets, fired at dawn, landed in the towns located near the Kabir, or Grand, River near the Lebanese-Syrian border. Two rockets landed on the house of Sheikh Abboud al-Zohbi in the town of Amar al-Bikat, causing material damage. No one was injured in the attack. On Saturday, rockets fired from Syria landed in the Bekaa regions of al-Hermel and al-Qaa. Other rockets also targeted the Akkar towns of Qashlaq, Wadi Hor, Hikr Janine and Amar al-Bikat, No one was injured in the incidents. Bekaa towns, with a majority of Shiite population, have repeatedly come under rocket attacks by either rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime or armed men supporting them. The Syrian troops loyal to Assad also continue to carry out air raids on Arsal, a majority Sunni town, which is an escape route for rebels and smugglers.

Arab League: No to Israel as Jewish state
By Al Arabiya News | Staff writer/Sunday, 9 March 2014
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby urged Arab countries to take a “firm stand” against Israel’s demand for Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish state. Speaking Sunday at the Arab Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo, Elaraby called the concession a deviation from the previously agreed-upon framework for peace talks. Last week, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said publicly he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
He also said there was “no way” he would accept a Palestinian capital in just a portion of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. The Palestinians fear the demand is an attempt to restrict possible return options for Palestinian refugees and the rights of Israel's large Arab minority. Abbas’ comments suggested the extent of the difference in stances between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after seven months of mediation efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. While Israel maintains the recognition is necessary and would signal the Palestinians are serious about peace, Elaraby described the demand as an Israeli attempt to foil the talks and called for a reevaluation of the negotiation track. Kerry is expected to present his ideas for the contours of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal soon, but it remains unseen that he can get Abbas and Netanyahu to agree on a framework before by the April 29 deadline. Abbas is set to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on March 17 as part of U.S. efforts to press both sides towards a peace process. Netanyahu met with Obama earlier this week. The current round of talks began in late July, but was plagued from the start by disagreement between Abbas and Netanyahu on the ground rules. The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967, and said talks about that state should use the 1967 lines as a starting point, a position backed by the U.S. but rejected by Netanyahu.(With Associated Press)


Final inventory of Iran arms ship: 40 rockets, 180 mortars, 400,000 bullets

By YAAKOV LAPPIN/J.Post/03/09/2014/IDF recovers forty M-302 rockets, with a range of 90-160 kilometers, hidden in crates on intercepted Gaza-bound vessel; army says advanced weapons were "destined to threaten the security of millions of Israeli civilians."The IDF released on Sunday an inventory of weapons recovered from the attempted Iranian shipment to Gaza last week. After detailed analysis carried out by the Engineering Corps, the IDF found 40 M-302 rockets, with a range of between 90 to 160 kilometers, hidden in crates. The Klos C ship also carried 180 millimeter mortar rounds, and some 400,000 7.62 millimeter caliber bullets.
"These are advanced weapons that were destined to threaten the security of millions of Israeli civilians. The IDF will continue in its mission to prevent arms smuggling across the Middle East to various terror organizations, under Iranian cover and funding," the military said in a statement. Before being intercepted, the ship's was heading for Port Sudan, where the Iranian Quds Force had planned to pick up the rockets and move them on land via Egypt, and from there, into Gaza through smuggling tunnels, the IDF suspects.According to Military Intelligence, Iran originally flew the rockets from Syria to an Iranian air field a number of months ago, before trucking them the Iranian port of Bander Abbas, where they were loaded on to Klos C. On Saturday, Israel Navy ships brought the Klos C to Eilat's port. Last week, it was raided by the navy in the Red Sea, some 150 kilometers from Port Sudan and 1500 kilometers from Israeli shores. Islamic Jihad was one of the intended recipients of the rockets, and Hamas may also have been a recipient. IDF intelligence assessments say that Iran's Quds Force organized the shipment, after flying the M-302 rockets from Syria to an Iranian airport, and transporting them to the Iranian sea port of Bander Abbas, where they were picked up by the Klos C. The ship's crew is believed to have unknowingly picked up the crates without knowing their content.

Israel unloads 150 containers from Iranian weapons ship, deploys Iron Dome in Eilat

By JPOST.COM STAFF/03/09/2014/IDF weapons experts determining if rockets on Klos C vessel that was bound for Gaza have 90k.m. range or were more advanced M-302 rockets with 150-200 k.m. range; Ya'alon: We face a struggle against a cruel enemy.

The Israel Navy unloaded some 150 containers from the Klos C on Sunday morning, a day after the ship docked at Eilat port. "Just walked through a hangar with rows of these rockets from the Iranian weapons shipment. All I can say is I'm happy they're in our hands," IDF Spokesman for International Media Peter Lerner said on his Twitter account. According to Channel 10, weapons experts who arrived at the naval base in Eilat were trying to determine which type of rockets the ship contained - those with a 90 k.m. range or the more advanced model of the M-302 rocket with a range of 150-200 k.m.The IDF is expected to complete the unpacking and classification of the weapons on Sunday before presenting their findings at the naval base in Eilat on Monday. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon were expected to travel to Eilat on Monday for the unveiling of the weapons. In anticipation of their visit, the IDF placed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in the vicinity on Sunday. Both Netanyahu and Ya'alon addressed the IDF's interception of the Iranian-sponsored weapons ship on Sunday. Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Iran's blatant lies would be exposed when the contents of the ship were presented on Monday. Speaking at a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers in Jerusalem, Ya'alon stated that "the interdiction of the ship reveals the danger and lack of restraint of the regime in Tehran. We face a complicated struggle against a cruel, sophisticated, shifty and versatile enemy."

Netanyahu calls on EU's Ashton to question Iran on arms ship during Tehran visit
By HERB KEINON/J.Post/As Israel began unloading the crates of ordnance on the Klos-C now docked in Eilat, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton began a landmark visit to Teheran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wondered out loud Sunday whether Ashton would raise the issue with her host. "I would like to ask her if she asked here hosts in Tehran about the arms shipment to terrorist organizations, and if not, why not?" Netanyahu said at Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting. "No one has the right to ignore the true murderous activities of the regime in Tehran, and I think that it is fitting for the international community to deal with the true polices of Iran, not its propaganda," he said. Relating to Iranian denials about any involvement in the ship laden with Syrian-missiles, Netanyahu said that the Iranians were blatantly lying, and that Israel would soon present the evidence.
He reiterated that Israel had two aims in intercepting the ship: protecting Israeli citizens, and revealing the true face of Iran.


UAE backs Saudis on Brotherhood blacklist
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News /Sunday, 9 March 2014
The United Arab Emirates announced its support of neighboring Saudi Arabia's decision to label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, deepening Gulf Arab pressure on the group. The UAE government will cooperate with Saudi Arabia to tackle “those terrorist groups through liquidating all forms of material and moral support,” the Western-allied Gulf federation's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to WAM news agency. "The UAE will not spare any effort to bolster the cooperation with brothers in Saudi Arabia to tackle those terrorist groups through liquidating all forms of material and moral support in all circumstances," the foreign affairs ministry said in the statement. "The significant step taken by the KSA in this critical moment requires concerted efforts and joint collective work to address the security and stability challenges that threaten the destiny of the Arab and Muslim nation," the statement added. Saudi Arabia blacklisted on Friday the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, Al Arabiya News Channel reported, citing a royal decree. The kingdom also designated the kingdom’s branch of the Shiite movement Hezbollah and Syria-based militant groups the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front as terrorist. Egypt was the first Arab country to label the Brotherhood terrorist in Dec. 2013, after accusing it of carrying out a series of bomb attacks in Cairo


EU's Ashton: ‘No guarantee’ of final Iran nuclear accord
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News /Sunday, 9 March 2014/The European Union's diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton said on Sunday there is “no guarantee” that talks with Iran on its disputed nuclear program will lead to a comprehensive agreement. “This interim agreement is really important but not as important as a comprehensive agreement (which is)... difficult, challenging, and there is no guarantee that we will succeed,” Ashton said during a joint news conference in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to Agence France-Presse. Iran clinched an interim deal in November with the P5+1 - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - under which it agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Negotiators are trying to reach a final accord in the coming months. “It is very important that with the support of the people of Iran for the work to going on by the minister and his team and with the support of international community for my work that we should aim to try to succeed,” Ashton said. Western nations and Israel have long suspected Iran is covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program, charges denied by Tehran.

Aid groups demand humanitarian access in Syria
By The Associated Press | Beirut /Sunday, 9 March 2014
Nearly 130 organizations have called for immediate and permanent humanitarian access to civilians throughout Syria to help relieve the immense suffering caused by the country’s civil war. The 128 groups making the appeal include United Nations agencies and relief organizations from around the world. In a statement released Sunday, the groups urge all sides in Syria’s conflict to listen to the voice of the international community as expressed unanimously through the Security Council. A U.N. Security Council resolution last month called on Syria’s warring sides to facilitate aid deliveries. The U.N. says more than 9 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance. Many of those most in need live in areas under government-imposed blockades, while others are in territory under the nominal control of rebel groups.

To Fatima, who lost her brother in Syria
Sunday, 9 March 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
How can one give condolences to a colleague in their time of tragedy when the person they’re mourning was from among the opposing camp? All death camps in Syria are similar: overflowing with blood, grief and lies. Colleague Fatima Abdullah, who works in Al-Nahar newspaper, recently mourned the death of her brother who was killed while fighting alongside Hezbollah in Syria. To her, we say: “they are all like your brother. They all died for no reason. They just died.”We don’t have anything to say to those who die there - in Syria, where people of the one country fight. They are all corpses. Syria’s war overflows with selfishness and the struggle for personal glory. Fatima’s brother is like dozens, or rather hundreds of thousands, of men, women and children who died in vain. Call them whatever you want; call them heroes, call them martyrs. They are all victims.
What Fatima wrote touched us all. It’s the story of many people these days; a story where death is presented as a gift to the people and where the deceased is celebrated.
Despite such a serene eulogy, she was fiercely criticized. Why this violence against a sister mourning her brother? Writing about her brother and mother, Fatima wrote: “We are only crying, while she’s withering away. I [won’t talk] on how to ease the pain of the ‘martyr’s mother’ and on how to teach her ‘patience.’ I will leave this to everyone [else] and talk to you about her without holding you guilty for her pain.”False blame
We don’t want to falsely blame anyone either and we don’t want to decorate anyone’s chest with medals. There is a huge pool of blood in Syria, regardless of whether those who died are regime opponents or supporters. This is an unjust war that could have been finalized without extended conflict or grief. Hundreds of thousands of people could have lived with their mothers and among their brothers and sisters.
Why did Fatima’s eulogy pain most of us at a time when we thought we had been desensitized to the suffering after three years of continuous footage of dead, injured and grieving people? It’s because she didn’t write for the sake of achieving political gains or for the sake of sentimentally touching us. She expressed herself as a sister who lost a brother, who didn’t adopt his stance and who didn’t hold the bullet which took his soul accountable. She also did not grant him martyrdom and she did not justify his actions or the actions of he who sent him to die in Syria. This honest eulogy came amidst massive destruction and her brother was among a long list of dead people. It was uttered in painful and direct impartiality. Despite such a serene eulogy, she was fiercely criticized. Why this violence against a sister mourning her brother? It’s because her frank tears exposed the truth about those who send men to their deaths.I conclude with Fatima’s statement: “I kiss your broken face and your feet which chose their path. I kiss your soul that pains my soul and your shoes, which left us, and all your photos.”
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 9, 2014.


The malignant cancer that is the ISIS
Sunday, 9 March 2014
Bakir Oweida/Asharq Alawsat
The consequences of former U.S. President George W. Bush’s war on terror may be responsible somehow, albeit not directly, for the emergence of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It may be an exaggeration to say that the situation is out of control and that it has become difficult, if not impossible, to contain the danger or overcome the consequences of the jihadist phenomenon, with those involved competing to see who can be the most violent.
There can be no argument that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and want to live in peace, coexisting with others and interacting with other cultures on the basis of mutual respect, for even cultural differences are the creation of God. This, however, does not negate the fact that the peaceful majority of more than a billion Muslims is suffering from a cancerous condition that has reached an advanced stage, to the point where it is bordering on terminal. In other words, it could kill the patient unless it is removed.
Growing cancer
It is now clear that Muslims are facing the threat of this growing cancer, which must be removed quickly before it can eliminate centuries of Islamic enlightenment during which Muslim scholars excelled in various fields, building bridges of communication with the world’s various cultures and civilizations. As for those who sow the cancerous seeds of division, they want to take the Islamic world backwards, deluding themselves into believing that their version of Islam—which relies on the sword—must prevail across the world.
It is no longer useful to express disappointment, anger or even ignorance towards criticism of Islam
On the other hand, it is high time for the elite of the Muslim world to wake up. There has been enough lingering in the delusion this is not a serious issue simply because Islam is greater and stronger than groups such as ISIS and its ilk. Yes, this is a fact that nobody can deny; however, it is also important to destroy the falsehoods of the self-righteous. This calls us to confront them with a force far greater than their own, and on whatever battlefield they choose, even on the front lines of Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq or Syria.
With the escalation in armed confrontation, intellectual argument must also continue on all levels. This, by the way, is the task of the enlightened religious scholars who are experts in their profession and who know what they are talking about, not the op-ed writers or television pundits—and this particularly applies to those who make it their business to issue fatwas and explain Qur’anic verses.
Entering a minefield
At this point, I am going to risk entering a minefield—albeit with advance knowledge of the risk that I am taking—and say that it is time for revered Muslim scholars, who are known for their brilliance, logic and wisdom, to take all criticisms of Islam seriously. They must place particular focus on those parts that seem to strengthen jihadists’ claims that they are acting in the name of Islam—including the slaughtering of Muslims and calls for non-Muslims to choose between the jizya [tax paid by non-believers to Muslims in Islamic states in ancient times] or the sword. This would be especially effective if it were to come from people of stature and knowledge with respected positions in their communities, and who are renowned for their objective opinions and their respect for Islam as a religion and a culture.
To be honest, it is no longer useful to express disappointment, anger or even ignorance towards criticism of Islam, which arises as a result of the actions of those who fan the flames of hatred. It is also no longer enough to hold complementary seminars that avoid delving deeply into the issues and shy away from taking the decisions that would deprive ISIS and the like of any excuse to present their murderous actions as being holy. It would be much better for Islam and Muslims to deal quickly with the problem before the cost becomes prohibitive, and to acknowledge the existence of this malignant tumor that must be removed as soon as possible.
A sin
Others may prefer to choose the easier way out in dealing with the problem. They are no less anxious about events, but believe that time will put an end to the jihadist phenomenon, as it did to other phenomena that came before. However, with all due respect, I think that this opinion trivializes a dangerous problem by making us believe that we can brush it under the carpet. No, reality and experience prove that this solution—the solution of waiting for a solution to emerge—is like trying to seek shelter from the sun under a sieve, as the Arab saying goes.
For instance, the Islamic world, in particular the Arab region, tolerated the atrocities of the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria during the early days of the spread of its horrors in the early 1990s. Back then, it seemed everyone was saying, “As long as the fire burning my next door neighbor’s house has not reached my house, I do not have to do anything.” This is not just incorrect, it is a sin.
Another, less serious, example is thinking that Islamic extremism will not develop into bloody jihad but will disappear as soon as a solution is found to historic disputes, mainly a just solution for the Palestinian cause, or by putting out the regional fires from Sudan in the south to Lebanon in the north. That is a belief I once held myself.
Now, however, I am convinced—and maybe others are as well—that this is shortsighted. Of course, the belief that a just solution to the Palestinian cause is a prerequisite for stability in the region, and even for world peace, is absolutely true. And had that solution been achieved when the opportunity was present, the region would probably have been in a better state than it is today. However, if fantasy were to become reality now—by which I mean if the Palestinian issue were resolved at the touch of a magical button, which is impossible—it would still not make ISIS or other groups like it disappear.
The hole has only grown bigger and harder to close. It may be better to imagine jihadists ruling Gaza, for instance, or controlling part of Lebanon or the Sinai Peninsula, and then to formulate plans on how to confront this, than to dream that the fire that has engulfed our neighbor’s house will not reach our own. On March 24, an Arab Summit is set to be held in Kuwait. Will it make plans to remove the tumor of ISIS and other jihadist groups before it is too late? Let us wait and see.
**This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 7, 2014.
**Bakir Oweida is a journalist who has worked as Managing Editor, and written for several Arab publications based in London. His last executive post was Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, responsible for the Opinions section, until December 2003. He can be reached on and

Has Obama Changed His Mind About Syria?
The American Interest/As the long-term costs of the Syrian war for the US and its allies mount, there are many signs that the US government could be moving towards a more realistic Middle East policy.
Are there at long last signs that the Obama administration is going to do something positive in Syria? An important article in the usually well sourced and carefully edited FT reports that under “heavy US influence” a new southern front is opening in the Syria war. The anti-Assad rebels are gearing up to fight towards Damascus, and fighters, aid, and weapons are flowing into rebel centers in the South. More:
“There’s an understanding in the US and the west that the north is just desperately complicated at this moment, where the idea that moderate forces can be dominant or can push back Assad just isn’t going to happen,” said Charles Lister, who tracks rebel movements for the Brookings Doha Centre. “That has led to an understanding that the south is a more realistic key to military success being led by moderates.”
This is one of several hopeful signs that after years of failure and indecision, the Obama administration has realized that whatever flaws the Syrian opposition has (and they are many), letting the Syrian war drag on indefinitely with Assad inching toward victory is a recipe for disaster. It may even be that the administration is coming to understand that looking indecisive and weak is not the way to get results with Iran, Israel or the Palestinians. Like it or not, US indecision and hesitancy over Syria has become a test case of America’s seriousness of purpose in the region. If the White House has finally taken note of this reality and started to act, there’s at least a fighting chance that the erosion of America’s position in the region and in the strength of its alliances could come to an end.
Some other interesting hints of important change have been coming into view lately. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns’ recently gave testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the growing costs of a long-term war in Syria for the US and its allies. The longer the war drags on the more the the Syrian becomes an “incubator of extremism”:
We face a number of serious risks to our interests as a result: the risk to the homeland from global jihadist groups who seek to gain long-term safe havens; the risk to the stability of our regional partners, including Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq; the risk to Israel and other partners from the rise of Iranian-backed extremist groups, especially Lebanese Hizballah fighting in Syria; and the risk to the Syrian people, whose suffering constitutes the greatest humanitarian crisis of this new century.
This testimony indicates that the US government could be moving away from its former position that getting involved, however indirectly, in the war was worse than letting the war drag on. And it perhaps also reflects a realization that Russia isn’t going to help us end it on reasonable terms. The Geneva conference was a total and utter fiasco, and made it impossible for Washington to pretend that it actually had a Syria policy. Now, post-Geneva, the US appears to be rethinking the decisions that got us into this fix.
On the Middle East side there are important developments too. It seems like the Saudis are getting more serious about breaking links with dangerous groups. They have declared some Syrian Jihadist organizations to be terrorists in a recent statement, for instance, and are cracking down on the fighters and funders supporting the ‘wrong’ people in this terrible war.
Those of us who aren’t in the flow of secret cables have to try to read the tea leaves instead, and these tea leaves suggest that the US and the Saudis have reached a meeting of the minds. The Saudis appear to have agreed to police the recipients of their aid much more effectively, taking US concerns about radical groups seriously. The US on the other hand is ready to do significantly more for groups that pass the stricter ‘moderation’ tests. If true, this isn’t just good news for the Syrian opposition. It is a sign that the Obama administration is paying closer attention to the loud chorus of voices from all sides of the Middle East warning that an effort to settle the nuclear issue with Iran that ignores Iran’s geopolitical surge across the Fertile Crescent will fail. Both Israelis and Arabs will sigh in relief if this is so; Sunni Arabs and Israelis have been united by the fear that in its rush to get a nuclear deal with Iran the Obama administration was ready to trade Arab land for Iranian nukes.
The opening of a rebel offensive in the southern front (where it can be supplied from friendly Jordan) and away from the chaos and infighting that dominates rebel held territory in the north, could be significant. Damascus is close to the southern front in the war. Anything that threatens Damascus can change the nature of the war and force Assad and his backers in Iran into a tight corner. It’s very early going yet, but if the administration is moving toward a more constructive policy, people should take note and give credit where credit is due. There have been false dawns before. But if these straws in the wind turn out to be the signs of real change, it may be that the White House at long last is moving toward a more grounded and realistic policy in its approach to the Middle East.

Worldwide probe to identify two mystery passengers aboard missing Malaysian airliner
DEBKAfile Special Report March 9, 2014/Two passengers who boarded the Malaysian airliner which dropped out of sight two hours after departing Kuala Lumpur Saturday, March 8, purchased flight tickets at the same time with serial numbers in sequence: 7842280116099 and 78422801160100. Both used stolen passports in the names of the Italian Luigi Maraldi and the Austrian Christian Kozel to travel to Beijing and on to Amsterdam by KLM
They never lived to reach the Chinese capital and went down in the South China Sea with 227 passengers and a dozen crew.
Malaysian Airline officials said the two unidentified passengers were not required to show Chinese visas because they were in transit to Amsterdam and would not have left Beijing airport. Not until Sunday, as 40 ships and 22 planes scoured the ocean, was the first object believed to have come from the missing plane discovered.
A terrorist attack was not ruled out as the investigation widened out from Kuala Lumpur and Beijing to encompass dozens of international intelligence agencies. DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report they are looking for answers to two key questions:
1. Why did the Malaysian airline’s staff and security officials omit the routine practice at most international airports to check the passports of check-in passengers with the Interpol list of stolen and lost passports which is circulated to all airports?
2. To pass through the airport, did the phony passport-holders replace the original photos with their own? If so, there would have been some evidence of a fault in the document, which should have been picked up by someone along the line from the travel agency which sold the tickets to the airline desk and security staff at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Sunday, Interpol issued a sharp reprimand: No country checked its database for information about the stolen passports that were used to board the Malaysian Airlines 777 flight that disappeared with 239 people aboard. Information about thefts of an Austrian passport in 2012 and an Italian passport last year was entered into its database after they were stolen in Thailand.
The Interpol statement added that it has begun an inquiry to discover the identities of the two passengers using the stolen documents.
According to Malaysian security officials, the FBI has also joined the investigation and is comparing all the passengers on the plane against its own terrorist watch lists.
Meanwhile, every scrap of information is being gathered from every conceivable source. Investigators are combing through airport and hotel CCTV tapes for comparisons of the passengers boarding the plane with international watch lists. Interviews are being carried out with the desk staff at Kuala Lumpur hotels and the taxi drivers who brought passengers to the airport.
Sunday, 36 hours after the disaster, the Vietnamese navy picked up an object suspected to have come from the plane near Tho Chu Island.
The mystery of the missing Malaysian plane deepens as every theory raised to account for its loss is quickly knocked on the head.
American security sources, who declined to be identified, reported that US intelligence agencies have checked for an explosion anywhere on the map, but found no sign of a blast in the vicinity of the airliner’s disappearance.
The report by Malaysian Air Force Commander Gen. Tan Sri Datuk Sri that military radar showed the pilot of the stricken plane had tried to turn back is also negated by aviation experts, who maintain that even if the flight crew were immobilized, the aircraft would have automatically signaled that the plane was off course.
No such signal reached air control.
In the history of aviation terrorism, it is not often that nothing at all is known about what happened aboard the missing plane to account for its disappearance. There is so little to go on – not even a distress call or an emergency-beacon signal.
Five years ago, Air France Airbus A330 with 228 passengers and crew aboard crashed in the Atlantic en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. There were no survivors. When fragments of wreckage were eventually retrieved from the ocean bed, investigators reported that a technical malfunction had caused the disaster. Some reputable terror experts remain unconvinced of this up to the present day.
Two years ago, in July 2012, a bus carrying Israeli tourists was attacked in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas. Five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed. The most intense efforts by Israeli, Bulgarian and FBI investigators to identity the suicide killer responsible for the attack and his accomplices have never tracked them down.


No difference between ISIS and Al-Nusra Front
BY: Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Alawsat
The story of the Al-Nusra Front and ISIS does not cease to shock.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front is affiliated to the ideology and plan of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. It entered the conflict in Syria as a largely unknown quantity following the build-up of the Assad killing machine and the siege of the civilian revolution at a point when all looked lost. Lately, however, it has tried to suggest that it is leaving its religious fundamentalism and its original plan for Syria behind and is working to achieve victory for the vulnerable people of Syria, whom the entire world has let down. In reality, however, it is still working towards a Greater Syria, a first step towards Al-Qaeda’s grand plan for the Sham region. The Free Syrian Army, as well as national and local civilian groups, have all turned a blind eye to this. Naturally, the Assad government is very pleased with this new development, as now they can stand before the developed world as the sole force standing against the barbarity of terrorism. We once viewed the Al-Nusra Front as the pinnacle of fundamental extremism, but that was before the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) emerged on the scene. It went far beyond the Al-Nusra Front in its savagery, its murderousness, its slaughtering and its taking of hostages. It set up its oppressive emirate in every place it went and sought to garner supporter from around the world.
It speaks to the old, deep, sick feelings in the hearts of some misguided Muslim youth. Ultimately, this is the major—and most disturbing—reason for the rapid expansion of ISIS in such a short time, and has nothing to do with the conspiracies that claim the intelligence services are behind the group. This is not to totally rule out the role of Iran and others who are intent on undermining the Syrian revolution—everyone is acting according to their own agenda. What is truly disturbing is that people are desperately trying to stop ISIS getting a foothold in Syria while pretending that the Al-Nusra Front and its leader, Mohammed Al-Golani, are working according to an inclusive civilian plan. The only difference between the two groups is a clash over who has the right to lead the “Syria project,” as the Saudi cleric Yusuf Al-Ahmed calls it. He confronted ISIS and challenged them to submit to an Islamic Shari’a Court that would adjudicate between the jihadists. Many other clerics have made similar suggestions, including Jordanian clerics Abu Mohamed Al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada.
We must look also at what Golani said in a statement broadcast by the group’s media wing while discussing the death of his comrade Abu Khalid Al-Souri. After cursing ISIS, which is accused of killing Souri, he agreed with them on the principle of takfir, in his own way. He accused the FSA and the Syrian National Coalition of being infidels because they supported the establishment of a secular state and the suppression of a righteous Islamic project. He called on ISIS to put aside their differences with “respected scholars” including Maqdisi, Abu Qatada, and Saudi cleric Suleiman Al-Alwan.
Therefore the only difference between the two groups is over who has the right of “walaya” [religious leadership or guardianship] —everything else is just details.
***Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.
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Saudi Arabia seeking to contain regional chaos

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to blacklist several aggressive groups taking part in activities on the ground in Syria and elsewhere carries a tone of challenge. But will this decision end the exploitation of Saudi Arabia and of Saudi people, money and institutions?
Many groups have been organized in the name of the memorization of the Holy Qur’an, the name of jihad, and the rescue of the oppressed. Some of these groups had political projects, while most were armed groups with violence being a declared part of their program.
These groups claim their external activities are against their enemies, while in fact, their ultimate target is Saudi Arabia. Due to the recurrence of their activities, once against the Serbs, a second time against the Americans, a third in Somalia, a fourth in Burma, and a fifth against Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, there are no longer any doubts that these organizations are all the same, having one unique goal.
There is no longer a need to argue about the validity of the accusations against these groups—the same groups that succeed in misleading people by claiming to be innocent and victims of the hostility against Islam.
What is said about their political activities are plain lies. Some of them admit to being armed and violent, but claim that their activities are directed against the “other” and the “enemy.” Saudis fell for almost of all the lies, whether they were members of the general public or intellectuals. But over the years, the truth has finally been revealed: Islam and Muslims have nothing to do with their activities.
The latest example of using the argument of defending Muslim people is what the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are doing. Many of their supporters and a number of idiots have raised money, recruited men, and prayed in mosques for these groups’ victory and for the triumph of the oppressed in Syria.
A few months later, everyone discovered that they were in fact terrorist groups, similarly evil to other organizations affiliated to Al-Qaeda, which had waged wars against civilians in the region. Oppressed Syrians have nothing to do with what ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front are doing, exploiting chaos in order to seize areas that have lost all security, using them as rally points for the training and formation of a military organization that threatens the people of Syria, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region. ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front were never a threat to the Assad regime, Iran or Israel. At first, their messages in the media and on social networking websites were limited to asking for the support of Syria and the Syrian people. Now, they are clearly and openly talking about acting against Saudi Arabia and other countries in the future.
That is why we are not surprised that those who support these groups are countries that are at odds with Saudi Arabia, or that Syria has nothing to do with their armament or mobilization.
The question now is: Shouldn’t all the activities that lead to such serious consequences, whether in the name of Islam or the oppressed, be criminalized? Despite the large number of appeals and warnings, we always rush to take a particular stance on such issues, only to discover that they are just another cover for an act of aggression against us.
It is essential to criminalize these groups and establish a legal basis on which to hold violators to account, but we must keep in mind other aspects that are equally important. These people are ghosts who would never admit their affiliation, and leaving education, schools, mosques and media open to the public can help them achieve their goals by acquiring sympathy and support.